“Discovering Knoff Yoga
 
I discovered yoga properly in 2005 when I was in Sri Lanka for a few months working post tsunami – before then I had dabbled for a few years, trying it at my gym, doing yoga DVDs with friends when living in the Solomon Islands, and going to the occasional class at work or when a yoga teacher visited Honiara.  In 2005 I was privileged to have private lessons with Madurai, a talented yoga teacher.  She would come to my guesthouse before work for lessons. I remember one day going to the office and being present and totally focused on my work for several hours as opposed to the usual manic monkey thinking – it was the most amazing feeling & I wanted more of it.  When I returned to Canberra late 2005 I signed up for a 10-week course with Alan Goode, a very serious Iyengar teacher. I then did a retreat with him & was hooked. 
 
In 2006 I moved to Bangladesh and during a brief visit to Sri Lanka I caught up with Madurai. She had recently returned from a teacher training course with Nicky Knoff. I remember thinking why would you go to  Cairns from Colombo for teacher training when India is next door…..I discovered why Madurai had made the long journey to cairns when I signed up for a teacher training course with Nicky in 2008. 
 
I was blown away at the energy, vision, dedication of Nicky – she could monitor and track all of the students – “is that 12 full breaths or sniffs?“  She would ask as I tried to speed through the tougher asanas.  The pace was unrelenting and the level of devotion and commitment much higher than any of the many teachers I have had in numerous courses.  I have the highest respect for all my fellow students – they worked around the clock practicing, studying, observing and assisting in yoga classes…we lived, breathed, dreamed yoga for the month intensive course – it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done & there were times when I thought I wouldn’t make it, when Nicky would say to me “what’s it going to take?”   It takes a lot but it so worth it……Nicky’s course isn’t for the faint hearted.   I know now that a Knoff trained teacher is the real thing.  
 
18 months later as I’m reflecting on the after effects of the Knoff experience the first one that comes to mind is the ability to deal with stressful situations. I got to practice that one immediately as my grandmother died during the course and I had to  leave a few days early to attend her funeral in Sydney. I did a yoga session at Coogee beach and then breezed through what would have been a very stressful big Greek funeral …..and living in Bangladesh I get to live my yoga every day. The benefits really have been phenomenal and its one the most transformative things I’ve ever done – I highly recommend it – I don’t think I could survive living in Bangladesh if I didn’t have my yoga practice – my job as assistant country director of an international NGO is chaotic working on development and emergencies, the latter unfortunately Bangladesh has too many of.   I figure my role is not to teach at Byron or Bondi Beach but to take yoga to those who can’t access it – like my female colleagues at work, street girls I teach English to or my driver, Kakoly, who is now sharing it with her family and colleagues.  I’ve had incredible opportunities to share yoga since doing the course including on a boat in the Sundarbans, with colleagues at a conference in Johannesburg and with participants at a 10-day meditation retreat in Nepal earlier this year.  What gives me great pleasure is watching others discover the joys of yoga, like Maya, my colleague, teaching children at a party on Christmas Day or Kakoly demonstrating asanas on new years day.  Yoga is a wonderful gift, and I’m been blessed to learn from the very best – thank you Nicky and James!
 
Namaste
Stav”